Harnett Man Linked To Fentanyl Deaths Of 4 People, Authorities Say

HARNETT COUNTY – A Harnett County man with a history of law enforcement interaction for the past 20 years has been indicted by a grand jury for distributing fentanyl that killed four people on the morning of March 28, 2020.

The jury returned a true bill of indictment on Feb. 26 charging Gerard LaSalle McLean, 37, of 446 Raynor McLamb Road, Bunnlevel, with four counts each of death by distribution and aggravated death by distribution.

“There were two scenes,” explained Harnett County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Aaron Meredith. The first victim, Shannon Lynette McLean, was located at 112 Blake St. in Lillington at 12:49 a.m. Three other victims were found dead in a car located at 242 Nutgrass Road in Bunnlevel at 7:37 a.m.

There were others who overdosed at both locations and survived,” Meredith shared.

The indictment alleges Gerard McLean sold fentanyl to a person identified as Courtney McLean. Investigators say this substance was ingested by Shannon McLean and she died as a result.

While looking into this indictment, the Record learned that Gerard McLean has three other related indictments stemming from his alleged distribution of fentanyl in March 2020.

Lt. R.S. Jackson, of the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office and a homicide detective in the criminal investigation division, charged Gerard McLean with three counts of death by distribution on March 28, 2020. He was arrested on May 6, 2020. He has been held under a $600,000 secured bond since that time. Based on this arrest and a prior drug conviction in Cumberland County, the jury agreed on charges of aggravated death by distribution in the deaths of Shannon McLean, Ervin Bass Jr., Laketa Vinson and Brittany Shaw.

The last three indictments were returned on July 6 and served on Gerard McLean in the Harnett County Detention Center the following day.

The indictments allege that the fentanyl was purchased from Gerard McLean by Brittany Shaw and ingested by Bass, Vinson and Shaw, resulting in their deaths.

All four of Gerard McLean’s alleged victims died on March 28, 2020.

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Maryland Death by Distribution Law

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Lawmakers in the Maryland General Assembly are hearing bills to prohibit the distribution of heroin and fentanyl without lawful authority to do so. Victoria & Scottie’s Law is named in honor of two individuals who died from fentanyl overdoses. The bill would impose up to 20 years of imprisonment on anyone convicted of selling these substances that lead to serious bodily injury or death.

‘No person that is safe’: Families continue the fight against fentanyl during victim summit

MONROE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The Fentanyl Victims Network met Saturday morning to continue the fight against the deadly drug taking over the nation.

Families who lost loved ones in the fentanyl poisoning shared their stories and pictures in hopes of uplifting each other.

Debbie Dalton was one of them.

“There is no demographic; there is no person that is safe from this evil that is taking our children,” said Dalton. 

In 2016, she lost her son Hunter to the drug after she said a good friend offered it to him.

“Hunter joked about it, like, ‘I don’t do this. I’m 23.’ He laughed about it. But unbeknownst to Hunter and his good friend, it was cut with fentanyl, and it gave my 6’2″ son a heart attack. He didn’t stand a chance against it. He was so strong that he survived for six days, and I held his hand, but he never regained consciousness,” Dalton said.

In his memory, she started the Hunter Dalton HD Life Foundation. Her mission now is to spare other families from going through the same heartache.

North Carolina is fourth in the nation in fentanyl deaths, but only 10th in population. Between September 2013 and September 2023, over 1600 people died from the drug in Gaston, Mecklenburg, and Union counties.

Continue reading “‘No person that is safe’: Families continue the fight against fentanyl during victim summit”

Two new North Carolina laws change fentanyl fines, concealed carry rules

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Dozens of new laws are now in effect in North Carolina as of Dec 1.

Some deal with stricter fines for drug traffickers, while others deal with election law. WECT News took a closer look at two of them.

Senate Bill 41

Part of Senate Bill 41, introduced by State Senator Danny Britt Jr., is now in effect in North Carolina. The part of the law now in effect allows concealed carry permit holders to bring firearms to places of worship that also have schools.

See WECT web site for remainder of their conent regarding Senate Bill 41.

Senate Bill 189

“An act to increase the fine imposed on persons convicted of trafficking in heroin, fentanyl, or carfentanil” will increase the fines for people convicted of drug trafficking who have between 4-14 grams of the substance on them.

The fine increase is from $50,000 to $500,000. That’s a 900% increase.

Barbara Walsh lost her daughter, Sophia, to fentanyl poisoning at just 24 years old. Sophia died after drinking fentanyl from a glass of water, but the family didn’t find that out until months after her death.

Walsh says she hopes the new law with an increased fine will be enough to curb traffickers from selling or distributing the lethal drug.

“I think that is a deterrent for people to think twice about trafficking fentanyl, and maybe it will save somebody’s life,” Walsh said.

While the new law can’t bring back her daughter, she hopes it could save others’ lives in the future.

“We’re paying it forward for unfortunately the eight people who die every day from fentanyl in North Carolina,” Walsh said.

The DEA reports that just one gram of fentanyl can kill 500 people.

Walsh founded the non-profit, Fentanyl Victims Network of North Carolina, after her daughter’s death. She works with families across the state who have lost a loved one to fentanyl and encourages those who want support to join.

Copyright 2023 WECT. All rights reserved.

Families hope new NC law could bring justice for fentanyl deaths

GASTONIA, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — There are a lot of families hurting in North Carolina.  

The state has seen 16,000 killed from fentanyl this year through July alone, according to the Fentanyl Victims Network of North Carolina. 

That’s 16,000 families missing a loved one because of a growing nationwide fentanyl epidemic. Tracy Sauderson-Ross wishes she would have been home back on Sept. 26, 2022, when her 16-year-old daughter, Abi, was dealing with leg pain and Abi’s boyfriend tried to help. 

“He decided to call a buddy of his to get a Percocet,” described Saunderson-Ross. “She took half of the Percocet, it was a bar, and it was 36 nanograms of fentanyl, and she passed away in the middle of the night.” 

Marshall Abbott was out with friends on June 30, 2022, the day before his 30th birthday. A friend he was with bought something. The family still doesn’t know what it was, but they know a loving father didn’t wake up. 

“Marshall had 72 nanograms of fentanyl in his system,” said Elizabeth Abernathy. “He didn’t stand a chance. He was gone before he even crawled into the bed.” 

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Statesville man charged in 2022 drug overdose death, sheriff says

A 26-year-old was taken to Iredell Memorial Hospital due to a drug overdose and later died, deputies said.

STATESVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) – A deadly 2022 fentanyl overdose in Iredell County has led to charges being filed more than a year later.

Deputies were called to Hickory Highway in Statesville on July 23, 2022, for a possible drug overdose, according to the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office.

A 26-year-old was taken to Iredell Memorial Hospital due to a drug overdose and later died, deputies said.

During the investigation, 26-year-old Dakoda Michael Drake, of Statesville, was identified as the person who provided fentanyl to the victim, according to the sheriff’s office.

“After months of waiting, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office recently received the Toxicology Report indicating the victim’s cause of death was confirmed as a Fentanyl overdose,” a news release stated.

An arrest warrant was obtained for Drake and he was arrested on Nov. 24 for felony death by distribution, deputies said.

He was given a $350,000 secured bond on this charge.

Read the full article on the WBTV website.

They Were Go-To Dealers for College Students. Now They’re Headed to Prison.

A trial in federal court last week stemming from the overdose of a 23-year-old Raleigh man exposed the inner workings of a drug-dealing duo and their college-student clients.

The weekend of March 4, 2023, was a big one in the Triangle. 

Big for thousands of students and alums because longtime basketball rivals Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were facing off. Big for crowded restaurants and bars that had the Saturday night game in UNC’s Dean Dome on their wide-screen TVs.

And big for Cye Frasier and his girlfriend, Carlisa Allen, who expected to bring in $10,000 in drug sales that weekend from their primary customer base: college students.

That weekend was the first time Josh Zinner, a former UNC-Wilmington student from Raleigh, purchased directly from Frasier and Allen, according to testimony last week in federal court. His roommate, a former UNC-Chapel Hill student and Phi Gamma Delta member, referred him to Frasier.

Continue reading “They Were Go-To Dealers for College Students. Now They’re Headed to Prison.”

A double-edged sword: North Carolina expands the fight against fentanyl

Changes to a North Carolina law make it easier to prosecute people who distribute drugs, including fentanyl, if the drug user dies

Overview:

Carolina Public Press interviewed six parents of children who died and the partner of a man who did as well. Fentanyl, a powerful narcotic painkiller, was involved in each death. Often, those close to the victims reported, prosecutors declined to bring charges for death by distribution, saying the evidence was not strong enough.

Under a state law that takes effect next month, anyone who provides certain drugs to a person who dies after taking them may be prosecuted for second-degree murder — whether they received money for the drugs or shared them freely. 

Death by distribution” first became a crime in North Carolina in 2019. Originally, the law applied only to people who got paid for drugs that later proved fatal. In September, legislators expanded the law’s reach to include anyone who provides certain drugs, including fentanyl, when those drugs result in an overdose death.

Carolina Public Press interviewed six parents of children who died and the partner of a man who died as well. Fentanyl, a powerful narcotic painkiller, was involved in each death. Most of the families reported that prosecutors declined to bring charges for death by distribution, saying that the evidence was not strong enough. 

The family members, as well as people who study drug use or work to combat it, are divided over whether the law’s approach is good or bad. Those in favor described death by distribution charges as essential to bring justice in fentanyl death cases. Critics argued that the strategy could unjustly criminalize and disproportionately affect substance users and people of color. 

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Drug dealer sentenced for deadly overdose in Union County

Trenton Latres Butler, 27, convicted of second-degree murder

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — A “self-admitted drug dealer” will spend two decades in prison after his role in a deadly overdose that happened last March in Union County.

The Union County Sheriff’s Office said Trenton Latres Butler was convicted of second-degree murder, trafficking in opium/heroin, and two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon on Tuesday.

According to the sheriff’s office, Butler sold fentanyl pills to 26-year-old Javier Ramirez-Sanchez in March of 2022. Ramirez-Sanchez died after taking the dose.

Investigators also said that Butler “repeatedly sold pressed fentanyl pills” and a gun to a confidential informant. Authorities searched Butler’s home and found more than 800 pressed fentanyl pills, Tramadol pills, Oxycodone pills, marijuana, and several guns.

On Tuesday, Butler was sentenced to serve between 225 and 282 months in prison and pay a $500,000 fine, according to the sheriff’s office.

Union County District Attorney Trey Robison said his office “will continue to aggressively prosecute fentanyl dealers who are poisoning our community.”

Read the full article on the Opera News website.